Today, we’re really excited to introduce you Akito-san, a specialist in premium green tea in Japan (and a creator of awesome TikTok originals!).
First of all, thank you for your time! As tea lovers, we really appreciate what you do and are super excited to introduce you to our readers! Can you please tell us about yourself, and give us a little background about you?
Thank you for inviting me! Sure, I’m a Japanese tea sommelier and the founder of Tea Cup Trip, which offers tea farm tours and experiences in Shizuoka Prefecture. Shizuoka is Japan’s largest tea-producing area, and it accounts for about 40% of all the nation’s tea production.
I was born and raised in a mountainous area located in the north of Shizuoka.
After studying in Osaka and California, I worked for a mobile carrier in Tokyo as a marketer for 13 years. I decided to leave the job to spread the beauty of Japanese tea, and of my hometown, Shizuoka. Then I started tours in 2018.
What is your personal story with tea? Did you like it since you were a child? Your Instagram bio says that you grew up on a tea farm. Please tell us more about this!
Tea was always around me since I was a child. My grandparents were farmers. My father worked for an agricultural association. And my mother is from Tea Town (“Chamachi” in Japanese) with more than 100 tea-related companies.
My family owns a small tea farm in front of our house. I played around on the farm and helped my grandparents pick tea leaves during tea seasons.
So I literally grew up on a tea farm.
But, honestly, I didn’t even know if I liked tea because it was everywhere and was like water for me. It took me a long time to find a deep connection with tea.
What is your favorite type of tea? And what kind would you recommend foreigners try when traveling to Japan?
I expected this question, but it isn’t easy to answer! My favorite tea changes depending on my mood and situation. But Sencha green tea is one of my favorites. Sencha is the most common type of Japanese tea. If we say green tea in Japanese, it usually means Sencha. I love Sencha because I grew up with this tea.
For foreign visitors, I recommend two types of tea. One is Sencha. It is the orthodox Japanese tea, so I want them to try it first.
The other one is Hojicha, roasted green tea. While Sencha has a grassy and very fresh aroma, Hojicha has a nutty roasted aroma. Coffee drinkers might like it. And a good thing about Hojicha is that it has almost zero caffeine.
What food do you like to pair with tea, and why? On the flipside, is there any food to avoid with tea, and why?!
Tea pairs well with cheese. There are many kinds of both tea and cheese, and it’s fun to find unique combinations. For example, camembert cheese and Sencha with a delicate fresh aroma and a bit of bitterness are good combinations. Smoked cheese and Hojicha with its roasted aroma also match.
Japanese people have tea with Japanese food, or some other Asian food like Chinese, and not so much with western food. But really, you can pair tea with most any meal.
I recommend cheese to our tour guests from foreign countries. Cheese is much more accessible than Japanese food outside of Japan.
GREAT NEWS as well: you just launched your online tea shop! Congratulations! Can you please tell us a bit more about it? Also, is it possible to order from overseas?
Thank you so much! I’m so excited to be finally able to deliver our premium teas. Just like our tours, the concept of our shop is the “Tea Experience.” We sell tea and teaware, but offer them as experiences.
Our products are: a tea-tasting set that you can use to compare different types of Japanese tea, a tea starter kit with a Japanese teapot and little cups, a tea roasting kit, etc. I believe even non-tea drinkers can enjoy them!
And our tea is of the finest quality, coming directly from tea farmers and manufacturers. Instead of being mass-produced, they are carefully made by tea artisans whom we trust.
And yes, you can order from overseas!
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Sadly, high-quality tea grown in the mountains is disappearing due to the tea market’s decline and severe aging problem among tea farmers. I feel we have a responsibility to make sure that tradition continues for the next generation. Through our activities, I want to support tea farmers and growers.
If you have a chance to travel to Japan, come visit Shizuoka!
It is just one hour from Tokyo by bullet train. Shizuoka has tea, Mt. Fuji, and fresh food from the mountains and the ocean.
I will welcome you with a cup of tea!
Thank you for your time, it was great to know more about you and your great projects Akito-san! We already told you, but we are in love with your Instagram and TikTok accounts, so please keep up the great work!
It’s my pleasure! Arigato!